WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders and his colleagues’ Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act:
“This is a plan that puts the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands first. The 1.7 million members of the American Federation of Teachers—including more than 40,000 members in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—are proud to stand with Sen. Sanders and his colleagues in embracing this plan, which not only calls for billions in urgent humanitarian assistance but also creates a blueprint for a sustainable and strong future.
“When I was in Puerto Rico, I saw firsthand the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the disturbing lack of urgency from the Trump administration to address it. We created Operation Agua, with great partners like Operation Blessing, to deliver thousands of water purifiers to schools and families. But although we are stepping up to help, nothing substitutes for federal government action to avert a looming catastrophe.
“Millions of U.S. citizens who live on these islands urgently need our help and support. They have endured more than two months without power and safe water. They are at their wits’ end. This bill—by addressing the immediate humanitarian crisis, while also investing heavily in infrastructure, including public schools, and allowing for long-term debt relief—provides a pathway to rebuild economies that have been ignored by those on the mainland for far too long. We urge Congress to support it.”